I love the period of transition between one year to the next. There's nothing more exciting than looking ahead to all the possibilities that await in the next 365 days and I relish the opportunity to reflect on the year that was and set goals for the coming year.
As the new year has turned, I can't quite begin with a clean slate yet because I have to wrap up a few reviews and updates from dining out in the past month or so. One such review I'm excited to finally post features Bangkok Joe's, a Georgetown restaurant I had heard incredible things about but only now got around to checking it out.
While Asian cuisines tend to be friendlier than most to gluten-free diners, Bangkok Joe's menu offers a dazzling array of options including noodles, curries, rice-based dishes, and dumplings that show off the styles and flavors of Japanese, Thai, Chinese, and Vietnamese cooking. Excellent word of mouth accolades on their gluten-free dumplings totally put the restaurant on my radar, but as you'll see, that's only where the gluten-free magic of this restaurant begins.
Bangkok Joe's menu is quite extensive, and I was happy to see a simple guide to what was gluten-free and vegetarian on its many pages. Of course symbols alone don't tell the whole story, so be sure to talk to the wait staff to ask about processes and ingredients, especially if you have multiple allergens. When I ordered, I communicated my two allergens and the waiter cleared it with the kitchen before confirming my selections were both safe.
I decided to start my meal with their tom yum soup, which came beautifully displayed in an oblong dish. On a chilly night, the warm broth was a perfect way to shake off a lingering chill, and I loved its fragrant flavor and spicy kick. While the soup was delicious and hit the spot, it wasn't as showstopping as other versions I've tried so I'm not sure I would order it again on a repeat visit (if only to try other options on the menu).
As a second small plate, I ordered summer rolls, which featured shrimp, rice noodles, veggies, and basil. Don't let the simplicity of ingredients fool you, it's the freshness of the rolls that makes them stand out. Plus, paired with a chili-peanut sauce adds an extra zing that takes them from good to great.
As the grand finale of the meal (for by this point I was quite stuffed), was the chicken dumplings, which come four to an order. The plump rice paper pockets were stuffed with chicken, turnip and garlic, served atop a sweet soy sauce, and covered with red sambal chili sauce. Each bite was a flavor explosion, with notes of sweet, savory, salty, and heat dancing around on my tastebuds. They are a little tricky to eat, and the ones that sat in the sauce the longest were more fragile than the ones I ate first.
I can't remember eating dumplings in my pre-gluten-free days so I can't say how these compare. Even if I could, I don't think I would want to though, because they're downright delicious, and have set a new bar by which I will compare future dumpling encounters.
While I didn't capture the whole menu in terms of what items are gluten-free friendly, I did snap a picture of the dumpling menu for all those curious about what is and is not safe. I was a little bummed there were only two options marked, but I guess two is better than nothing!
True to the hype, Bangkok Joe's is quite a find, and should definitely be on the radar of anyone living in or visiting the Georgetown area. With a menu chock full of tempting options and a can-do approach to gluten-free fare, you can relax and relish in being able to choose from a wide variety of foods and flavors as the restaurant puts several Asian cuisines in conversation with each other. Though I'm not in the area often, I certainly will plan future trips around stopping by for lunch or dinner!